HC Deb 23 November 1938 vol 341 cc1751-2
45. Mr. Tinker

asked the Prime Minister whether he will give consideration to setting up a Royal Commission to examine the question of placing electric wires and cables underground?

Sir J. Simon

My right hon. Friend does not consider that any good purpose would be served by referring this question to a Royal Commission.

Mr. Tinker

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that electricity is the great new power of the age, and that it is becoming a general practice to carry these wires on pylons? Surely now is the time to examine the whole position. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will consider the matter.

Mr. H. G. Williams

If my right hon. Friend is considering the appointment of a Royal Commission, will he also consider how the public are to be compensated for the increased price which would result from the hon. Member's proposal?

Mr. Pilkington

Are any of these wires being laid underground?

Sir J. Simon

That question should be addressed to the Ministry of Transport. The supplementary question of the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) deals with a matter which he has raised before, and I think he has been told by the Minister of Transport that the circumstances have been very carefully examined, and that the suggestion is not practicable.

Mr. Lawson

Was not the real answer to the effect that it was too expensive? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, however, that there are hundreds of thousands of skilled men who could do this work, and who are now being paid for doing nothing?

Sir J. Simon

I have the original answer before me. It was as follows: The matter has already been carefully examined, and, hearing all considerations in mind, I am satisfied that the hon. Gentleman's suggestion is not practicable.